Thursday, June 30, 2011

NPT Jobs Recommends: 6/30/2011

I hope you enjoyed the blog post today.  Cover letters are so important, so I thought I would start today's NPT Jobs Recommends with an article about how to write them:

  • 'How to Write a Cover Letter'-This is a pretty great step by step guide of how to write a basic cover letter.  If you are new to the process, this is a good place to start.
  • 'Three Ways to Build Your Personal Brand'-Building yourself up is a big part of any job search.  This article from gives some great advice to get started on building your "personal brand."  Some of these can be a bit hard for people who have little job experience (especially the "speaking" section), but it's still worth a read.
  • 'Making Your Career Choice: What Comes After Plan "A"?'-I've written a lot about how our first choices in job searches often don't materialize.  Often times, we have to settle for plans A, B, or C.  The good folks over at have written a good article about this very subject.  They end the article with a great point: Above all else, have a plan!

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/30/2011

Welcome to the last day of June!  Is it just me, or did this month go by really fast?  Anyway, here are the top jobs from The Nonprofit Jobseeker:

  • President/CEO at MAAC Project: Do you have the skills to be a CEO of a successful nonprofit?  Here is your chance. The MAAC Project is a multi-purpose social service agency, which promotes self-sufficiency for low and moderate income families and communities of Southern California through advocacy for, and delivery of, social, educational, housing and employment services.
  • Vice President, Development and Marketing at The Boys and Girls Club: The Vice President of Resource Development & Marketing will be responsible for developing and implementing an integrated plan to achieve the strategic resource development, marketing and public relations goals of the organization including all the programs and staff necessary to accomplish these goals.
  • Executive Director at INNterim Housing Corporation: The Executive Director serves at pleasure of the Board of Directors but reports directly to the Board President. The Executive Director is responsible for the achievement of the organization’s mission, goals and financial objectives.   

What Should NOT Be In a Cover Letter

cover letter writing

You probably have a good idea of how to write a cover letter.  You probably know all the major points you have to hit to catch an employer's attention.  But, do you know what you shouldn't be including? 

One of the best ways to get your cover letter ignored is for it to be too long.  The last thing an employer wants to do is read something that goes on for an eternity.  The inclusion of irrelevant information is one of the main causes of a long cover letter.  It's not always obvious, however, what doesn't need to be included.  Sometimes things that aren't necessary seem important.  The goal here is to help you understand what you can safely leave out of your cover letters.

Your cover letter should not be your resume in prose form.  The employer has already read your resume once, so there is no need to include the same information.  The goal of any successful cover letter is to put a personality behind the facts in your resume, and to explain why the position you applied to would be a good match.  So there is really no need to repeat your job history again.  You can go into more detail about a particular job listed on your resume, if it helps explain your passion for the job you applied for.  Just don't rehash your job history as if the employer hadn't read your resume.  I made the mistake of doing that when I first started looking for jobs.  Needless to say, I didn't hear back from many of the places I applied.

Make sure to include a strong closing at the end of your letter.  There is nothing wrong with generic closings (e.g., "I look forward to hearing from you in the future), but these can make you seem passive.  Try using a stronger closing, something like: "I will call back in the next week so we can discuss the position further."  It's always better to sound too aggressive than too passive.

Finally, don't get too personal.  Unless there was something that happened in your life that is relevant to why you are pursuing the job, it doesn't need to be in your cover letter.  Not only does it take up precious space, it can just make the employer feel awkward.  Even if it's not that personal ("I like playing piano"), it more than likely has no relevance to the job for which you are applying.  So before you share personal information, stop and think about whether it needs to be shared.

Resume cover letters are not easy to write.  Quite frankly, they were my least favorite part of the job search.  Unfortunately, they are one of the most important aspects.  That is why it is so imperative to make sure it is well written and concise.  Following these tips will get you well on your way to that goal.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NPT Jobs Recommends: 6/29/2011

Looking for some quality job search advice articles?  Check out some of these I found today:

  • 'How Well Do You Know Your (Facebook) Friends?'-As useful as social media can be for your job search, it carries some risks as well.  Because everything you do on sites like Facebook is public, it is that much easier for potential employers to check you out.  And if they find something they don't like, as was the case with the story in this article, your job prospects can fall.
  • 'Networking on the 4th of July'-Looking to get some networking done when Independence Day comes around?  Here are some tips from to help you get that done.  It's a lot easier than you might think!
  • 'Company Due-Diligence Before You Interview'-It is important to know everything you can about the organization you have an interview.  It will not only show you did your homework, but it will show that you are willing to do the extra work to get ahead.

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/29/2011

We've had a number of pretty interesting nonprofit jobs posted recently.  Here are a few of them:

  • Web Content Editor at World Wildlife Fund: The editor will write original and edit others contributions to achieve a balanced presentation which will define and promote WWF, lead the implementation of WWF’s web content strategy planning of the editorial calendar for the website and provide input to the Online Marketing Team on the editorial calendar for other digital channels. This person will work closely with program communications and online staff, guiding content for email/social media and ensuring that communications are strategic across all digital channels.
  • Executive Director at Literacy NYLiteracy New York, Inc. (LNY) seeks an Executive Director based in Buffalo, NY to leads its network of 36 local affiliates providing volunteer based adult literacy services in 55 counties of NYS. Reporting to the LNY Board of Directors, the ED is responsible for developing and implementing a business plan focused on LNY's mission, vision and objectives as well as managing partnerships, external resources and a central staff.
  • Associate Director of Sales and Marketing at The Kendal Corporation: Successful candidate fosters Kendal's values in outcomes and processes. With Director, ensures that all Kendal sales professionals have a thorough working knowledge of their products and services and those of the competition. In addition this person will effectively teach consultative selling practices including telemarketing, keen listening skills, follow-up, building rapport, closing skills, etc.

6 Great Reasons to Do Volunteer Work (Aside From Building Your Resume)

Doing volunteer work is very helpful when it comes to getting nonprofit jobs.  Nonprofits look very highly upon resumes that include this kind of work history, so it makes a lot of sense to get started in this kind of service.  But did you know there are other advantages to doing volunteer work?
  1. It's a great experience.  I suppose this can be subjective, but most people who volunteer will tell you it was one of the best experiences of their lives.  Even if the work you do seems meaningless, it will often help make other people's lives better.  There is something to be said for making the world a better place.
  2. If you work hard enough, you could actually end up being hired.  Take the case of Stephen Anfield, who volunteered at AARP.  The work he did for them helped land him a full time job.  This is as great an example as any why you need to treat everything you do with seriousness.  You never know where the next opportunity will come from.
  3. You can meet some pretty interesting people, many of whom can become great contacts or references for you.  When I volunteered for a local community center in my town, my supervisor became a valuable reference for me when I applied for jobs.  Even when throwing out the work equation, these are people who can become really great friends.
  4. It gives you something to do in your downtime.  The importance of having some sort of structure can't be overstated, especially when you are unemployed.  It's unreasonable to spend your entire day working on your job search.  Having something else to do that is productive will really help improve your overall mood.
  5. It can be fun.  It's rare to do work that can actually be labeled fun, but that's exactly what volunteering can be.  Depending on where you work, you can be doing work outdoors.  And now that it's summer, that can really be appealing.  It's certainly better than sitting in front of a computer all day!
  6. Volunteering can open doors to career paths you never considered.  After doing a lot of volunteer work, it is entirely possible you might discover that the work you have been doing is what you truly enjoy.  This in turn can expand your job search options even further.
You might have been thinking before that volunteering is a waste of time.  Why spend time doing strenuous work when you need all the time you can doing your job search?  Hopefully, after reading this list, you have discovered that it really is worth the time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NPT Jobs Recommends: 6/28/2011

Links for the day, as news of a drop in consumer confidence comes out...

  • '4 Words to Remove From Your Resume' suggests you remove the following words from your resume: "References available upon request."  Why?  Well you'll just have to read the article to find out.
  • 'Are You Compliant or Engaged?'-This is an insightful post on leadership styles.  Whether we like it or not, our personality will have a lot to do with our long-term career goals.
  • 'Is the Executive Resume Dead or Dying?'-According to Meg Guiseppi, news of the death of executive resumes have been greatly exaggerated.  But that doesn't mean they haven't changed from the way they used to be.

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/28/2011

The top nonprofit jobs for June 28th, 2011:

  • Fundraising Professional at GW National Memorial Association: This challenging position entails managing all aspects of a multi-faceted fundraising campaign. The immediate mission is restoration of a National Memorial, with more projects planned.
  • Community Liaison at Hostelling International Chicago: This position is a great career opportunity for anyone working in hospitality, volunteer management or nonprofit programming. Good candidates will be experienced travelers, preferably with hostelling experience, who are organized, detail-oriented, fun, enthusiastic and highly motivated.
  • Child Psychiatrist at Child Guidance & Family Solutions: Child Guidance & Family Solutions, a community oriented, children's mental health center, needs a full time Board Qualified/Eligible CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRIST (Salary Range: +$160,000) to join 1 other child psychiatrist and a compliment of 160 clinical staff.

Things To Remember on a Job Interview

You can do all the preparation in the world for a job interview, but everything can change in an instant once you walk into that office.  It can be easy to forget everything you practiced once you are faced with the real deal.  Don't worry, this happens to everyone no matter how experienced.  So if anxiety starts to creep in when you get to your interview, here are some things you should remember:

  • Ronnie Ann, a career coach and author of the Work Coach Cafe Blog, says the most important thing a job candidate can do is act naturally.  She has conducted many interviews before, and she says the individuals who impressed her the most were those who didn't try too hard.  I couldn't agree with this more.  In almost every aspect of life, trying too hard gets you nowhere.  Think of it this way: If you were good enough to be chosen for a job interview, you don't have to be anything more than what was listed on your resume.
  • Take a deep breath and practice some of the anti-anxiety techniques I mentioned in the past.  Remember, you can't control the decision the organization makes.  All you can do is make the best impression possible.
  • Another great tip from Ronnie Ann is to know your own resume.  You shouldn't have to consult it when asked a question by the interviewer.  This not only makes you look unprepared, but it also can make the interviewer doubt the accuracy of your resume.
  • If it's a hot day out, make sure you are well hydrated.  It doesn't look too good to bring food or drink into the interview, so make sure to have some water well in advance. 
  • Finally, be proud of your accomplishments!  Some interviewees get afraid of sounding like they are bragging (I was certainly guilty of this).  In reality, that's the last thing you should be worrying about.  Interviewers want to know what you have accomplished in your career, so don't be hold anything back that you think might be relevant.
Do you have any other tips to share?  Feel free to list them below!

Monday, June 27, 2011

NPT Jobs Recommends: 6/27/2011

Here are some of the great job articles from across the web I recommend checking out.

  • 'The New Job Search'-This is a short, but useful post on how the job search has changed thanks to the advent of technology.  The author does a good job of outlining the potential challenges job seekers face, and what they can do to overcome them.
  • '5 Basic Twitter Tips'-Twitter is an invaluable tool to career networking, but what if you don't know how to use it?  No worries, Brand-Yourself has compiled a list of five things Twitter newbies need to know.
  • 'The Role LinkedIn Plays in Uncovering Career Goals'-I've been writing a lot about social media sites lately, so I thought I would share this post I found about LinkedIn.  Specifically, it's about how it can help you discover job titles that would interest you.  This is a great article to read if you are skeptical about how helpful social media can be in helping your career.

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/27/2011

Here are some of the top nonprofit jobs directly from The Nonprofit Jobseeker...

  • Development Manager, Annual Giving at Goodwill Industries of Central Texas Responsible for managing all aspects of the Annual Giving Program. This position will develop and implement an annual solicitation plan for annual giving donors, coordinate projects with the direct mail consultant, support the Benevon fundraising program, cultivate annual and planned giving prospects, manage ongoing stewardship activities with current donors and facilitate planned giving outreach efforts. Position is also responsible for special event revenue and volunteer program.
  • Part Time Finance Manager at American Pharmacists Association: The American Pharmacists Association Foundation (APhA Foundation), the Foundation of the national professional society of pharmacists, has an immediate need for a part-time Finance Manager (up to 24 hours per week) to oversee the financial management of the APhA Foundation, including oversight of insurance and investment policies, investment portfolio, and budget process.
  • Director of Development at The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy: The Director of Development oversees the advancement, implementation, coordination and evaluation of the Foundation's development activities and programs. Specific areas of responsibilities include: Create annual, comprehensive plans; provide key leadership in securing financial support (i.e., annual fund, major gifts, special events, foundation/corporate/government grants, sponsorships, planned giving, etc.)...

Discussion: Effectively Using a Nonprofit Job Board

Using a nonprofit job board is not as simple as it seems. That seems like a strange thing to say. After all, how hard could it be? All you have to do is read the job description and apply to the job. Well yes, that portion of a job board is not too hard. The real complexities occur when trying to find the jobs that are relevant to you.

All nonprofit job boards have a feature that allows you to search the available jobs in their database. If you do a general search, you will end up seeing every position that is available. Needless to say, this won't help you too much. You will need to use the advanced search options if you want to get the most out of your searches. These options act as filters, allowing you to browse only the jobs that match the criteria you select. In general, these are the types of filters you can expect to see:
  • Experience level
  • Education level
  • Location
  • Category (i.e., type of job)
  • Salary range
Some sites have more options, but these are the main ones you should be concerned with. Out of all of these, I would say that experience level and category are the most useful ones.  They are very important traits for your job search, so you will want to make sure they are part of the jobs you browse. You could argue that salary is also important, but I always found that pay was fairly consistent based on the level of job. For example, most entry level jobs are going to pay the same. You want to have your search be as narrow as possible, so it's best to use two of these filters at the most. You could probably get away with three, but you don't want to get too overwhelmed with results.

But that's just my advice, I'd be interested to hear what has worked best for you when it comes to using job boards.  Do you have methods that have worked well for you?  Or maybe you find that using different filter than the ones I suggested works better.  I'd love to hear from you, so post your comments below.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NPT Jobs Recommends: Debut Edition

As promised, here is the new daily post for job advice articles.  The format will be the same as the old Nonprofit Career Round-Up posts, so there's no new explanations needed.  Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the articles!

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/24/2011

Time for a bit of a change.  From now on, the Nonprofit Career Round-Ups will be links to job postings from The NonProfit Times' job board.  These will occur every day as was previously the case.  But don't worry, those article links aren't going anywhere!  I will now post them in a seperate post (which will debut later today) called NPT Jobs Recommends.  I hope you will like these changes, I think they will give the blog a more structured feel.

So without further ado, here is the debut of the new Nonprofit Career Round-Up:

  • Director of Operations at The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division: As a key member of the operational and program team, ensure that the goals of the facility are accomplished. This includes high quality programming, sound fiscal management, mission driven success and a fully operational facility.
  • Community Initiatives Associate at GLSEN: The Community Initiatives Associate provides direct support to community-based GLSEN Chapters to ensure that their work effectively supports GLSEN’s mission and strategic plan. This Community Initiatives Associate position is also responsible for providing support and developing resources for Chapters to increase their use of technology and social media in their local organizing.
  • National Director of Planned Giving at American Jewish Committee: The National Director of Planned Giving provide leadership in developing and executing planned giving strategies that contribute to the future sustainability of AJC, and that support the strategic direction and mission of the organization.
Visit the Nonprofit Job Seeker to see even more jobs.

The Key to Successful Career Networking

Career networking is many things, but there is one thing it is not: Working your contacts only when you need a job.  There is a belief amongst some job seekers that this is the only time you should be in touch with your network.  Why shouldn't this be the case?  After all, why should you be bothering reaching out to job contacts when you already have work? 

I've got some news for you: People are not going to be interested in helping you if it seems you only reach out them when you need something.  Even though you are unemployed, it doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to help them out.  Maybe they have recently become unemployed and you can give them some contacts of your own.  Helping out your people in your career network is the best way to ensure they will remember and help you.

Here are some other tips to strengthen your network:

  • Forward relevant websites or articles to your contacts.  This will show that you are thinking of them, and spark a potentially insightful conversation.
  • If you know someone in your network is looking for work, send them potential job openings.  This is even more effective if you know someone who works at the company that is hiring.
  • If it's convenient to you both, try and meet for coffee or lunch.  Online interaction can only get you so far.
Yet the most important tip of all is making new contacts.  You should be making new ones every week if you are to get the most out of networking.  You never know whether that next person you get in touch with could lead you to a dream nonprofit job.  Your initial communications with new contacts should be worded very carefully.  You should mention that you are interested in working in nonprofits, and would like to get their input on your resume or cover letter.  Mention that you would like to set up a phone conversation at their earliest convenience to talk about what kind of opportunities might be available in the industry. 

Remember, you don't just have to contact people at organizations to which you have applied.  The point of networking is not just to get an extra boost to your chances at a particular job, it is also to make you aware of opportunities you might not have discovered otherwise.  There is no reason that you won't be successful in your efforts if you are respectful and gracious in your messages.  So take a chance this weekend and start strengthening your career networking!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nonprofit Career Fairs

Attending a nonprofit career fair is a great way to boost your job search.  Even if the jobs there ultimately don't interest you, it makes for great networking opportunities.  So where can you attend one of these events?  Luckily for you, career fairs are happening almost all the time across the United States.  I recently read about an upcoming career fair in Portland, OR.  It's being held on November 1, 2011 at Portland State University.  That seems like an eternity from now, but it's never too early to plan.  Here is the address if you are interested in attending:

The SMSU Ballroom
1825 SW Broadway
3rd Floor
Portalnd, OR

If you have any more questions about this career fair, you can contact PSU on their website.  I'll be keeping an eye out for other nonprofit career fairs across the country, so stay tuned!  And if you know of any happening in your area, please let me know by leaving a comment!

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/23/2011

Here are today's nonprofit job links:

Networking Decisions: Linkedin Vs. Facebook

When it comes to career networking, job seekers have a lot of options at their disposal. They can go the traditional route and attend networking events, or they can use social networking sites. While there is no right or wrong choice, it's clear that networking via the Internet is a lot simpler. You don't have to do any traveling and it's a lot less stressful than face-to-face encounters. That doesn't mean it comes without its challenges. And one of those comes from choosing which site to use. The two most popular sites out there remain Facebook and LinkedIn. Both have their pros and cons, and I will discuss those below:

-In terms of overall popularity, I would estimate that there are more users on Facebook. That makes it more likely you will be able to connect with former colleagues.

-At the same time, LinkedIn is a lot better for making new career contacts than Facebook. Your work history is easily visible, and the interface will tell you who some of your other connections know. This is helpful when trying to make contacts at a job you have just applied to.

-There is also more to distract you on Facebook than LinkedIn. There are tons of games and other unrelated content, so it is easier to stray off course.

-Facebook is a little easier to use. I always found the LinkedIn interface to be a bit clunky. On Facebook, everything you need to know is laid out in front of you. This makes it much easier to figure out exactly how to contact people, etc.

Overall, I still prefer LinkedIn to Facebook when it comes to career networking. Although it's a little more complicated to use, I think it's better suited for networking than Facebook. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Final Word on Job Search Distractions

I have written about distractions from your job search over the past couple of days.  Today, I'm writing about it one last time.  There are people out there who are probably wondering why this is a big deal.  If they can multi-task well, the reasoning goes, there should be no reason they can't do other things while looking for nonprofit work.  I'm sure there are some people who can do this successfully.  I would still argue, however, that you can't have your attention divided. 

Being able to multi-task is a great skill to have; it's a skill that will serve you well when you get that nonprofit job.  But to me, being able to multi-task just means being able to do two things at once.  That doesn't necessarily mean you can do them all at 100%.  And with employment being such a huge part of anybody's life, operating at less than 100% when filling out an application just won't cut it.  Mistakes are made even when something has our undivided attention.  Just imagine how many errors you could make if you are distracted. 

Distractions are a part of life.  Even if we are able to avoid the distractions we can control, there will always be things that will steal our attention.  That is why it is so important to avoid the ones we can control, even if you think you can work just fine with distractions.  If that means having to leave your house and do your job search at a library, so be it.  You really have to do anything you can to make sure you are as focused as you possibly can be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: Summer Solstice Edition

It's the first day of Summer!  And with that comes the longest day of the year: The Summer Solstice.  I don't know about you, but I like my days at normal length.  But who am I to argue with nature?

Job Search Tips: Dealing With Social Media

social media
Behold: Everything that will distract you

Today's job search tips will focus on the biggest online distraction of all: Social media.  This is an interesting topic because as distracting as it can be, social media is an important job search tool.  Job seekers often use Twitter to find out about the latest job openings, and Facebook can really help with networking.  Yet both of these sites can also really throw you off your job search with seemingly infinite distractions.  Is it possible to use these sites while still staying on task?  I've always said that nothing is impossible, but this is as close as it gets to that level.  Luckily it only comes close.

Let's start with Facebook.  Most of what will distract you on this site will come from the "News Feed."  This is where you will see the latest news from your friends and, in turn, it is a place you should leave the minute you login.  You should instead move immediately on the task at hand.  If you are trying to contact a former colleague, for example, you should go straight to their page and message them.  This does require a lot of self discipline.  It's akin to trying to eat healthy when there are a bunch of fast food restuarants right in front of you.  If you find that it is too hard to get work done on Facebook, I would recommend using LinkedIn.  It has far fewer distractions than Facebook and it's probably a little better for networking, anyway.

I've always thought that Twitter was the most useful of social media sites.  It's also the most distracting of all of them.  The nature of the site is such that there is almost no way to avoid the constant stream of information coming at you.  Luckily, it's not completely impossible.  You see the search bar at the top of the site?  You should enter in the appropriate Twitter hashtag there so you can filter which messages you see.  Typing in #nonprofitjobs, for instance, will only show you tweets related to that topic.  That will make it much easier to avoid all those, uh, interesting tweets that tend to pollute your feed.

So avoiding distractions on social media isn't impossible after all.  Is it hard?  Certainly.  But with a little effort, you can make social media a valuable ally in your search for nonprofit work.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Job Search Tips: Staying Focused in a Digital World

Finding a nonprofit job is hard enough without being constantly bombarded with distractions.  The nature of today's job search, unfortunately, means that it is almost impossible to avoid them.  Think about it: The majority of job seeking takes place on the Internet.  The web has made it a lot simpler to find and apply for jobs, but with that simplicity comes countless distractions.  One minute you could be browing a job board and before you know it, you find yourself on YouTube looking at that latest cat video.

How are you supposed to get anything done with all of these online distractions?

There might be no way to just get rid of all of these distracting sites, but there are ways you can train yourself to avoid them.  One of the first ways to do this is to simply stay off any services were your friends or family can contact you (AOL Instant Messenger, etc).  It's hard to fully focus on filling out a job application when you are constantly being bombarded with messages.  It will also be that much easier to avoid sites that are unrelated your job search if you don't have your friends linking them to you via instant messages.

Digitally isolating yourself is just part of the solution.  The next step is the hardest: Training yourself to stay focused.  To be honest, there is really no good way to do this.  One thing I always found helpful was to use the distractions as a reward.  For example, I would allow myself to freely browse the Internet for a set time period (10-15 minutes) before continuing my search.  You can enforce this by setting setting an alarm clock to go off when that period has elapsed.  You could also listen to music while job searching.  I always found that was a good way to keep my mind focused.  Whichever method you choose, you will have to work hard to make sure you don't stray off course.

By far the biggest distraction on the Internet is also one that can help your job search the most: Social media.  Tomorrow, I will write about how you can use sites like Facebook and Twitter without being distracted from looking for work.  Stay tuned!

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/20/2011

Hope everyone had a fantastic Father's Day weekend.  But now that the festivities are over, it's time to get back to the job search grind.  Here are today's links to help make it a little bit easier:

  • 'Top 100 Skills by Job Demand (And Average Salary)'-Curious to know what are the types of skills that are in the most demand today?  This list will give you those answers, as well as the type of pay you can get.
  • 'Encouraging Job Seekers'-I've mentioned many times how important it is to keep a positive mindset when searching for job.  This article gives advice on how to give and seek out encouragement when the going gets rough.
  • 'Finding Unadvertised Jobs'-Open jobs aren't always posted on job boards.  This article gives you tips on how to find those unadvertised jobs.

The Advantage of Multiple Job Interviews

It can be successfully argued that the job interview is the most important part in the search for new employees. This is when you, the nonprofit manager, will truly get to know the prospective employee. A job candidate may look flawless based on their resume, but you might find that they are not as great after an interview. While it would be ideal to conduct one interview for every individual, you will find that it is much more beneficial to interview those candidates that are most exceptional a second time.

In general, the first interview is more of a "getting to know you" affair. You should be looking to find out if the candidate is truly the person they claim to be on their resume. You will ideally have too many candidates to interview for it to be wise to try and figure out if they will be "the one." Treating the initial interview as a kind of filter, therefore, will make it easier to figure out who will be the best fit for your organization.

And that is why it is so advantageous to conduct multiple interviews. While it would be best if you could figure out exactly who you want to hire based on one interview, it makes a lot more sense to have multiple rounds. You will undoubtedly be faced with prospects who don't live up to their resumes in the first round. By weeding out these individuals, you will have a better chance of finding out who is the best person for the position when you begin your second round of interviews.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/17/2011

Happy early Father's Day to everyone!  Hope you have some special things planned for dad this weekend.  Maybe you can find yourself a job if you are still living at home.

  • 'Master LinkedIn Today'-CareerSherpa has some great resources to help you get the most out of LinkedIn.  You should check them out if you are having difficulties with it.
  • 'HOW TO: Identify a Job's Key Deliverables Before You Apply'-What's a deliverable, you ask?  It's the key things a prospective employee will need to bring to the table to be a good fit for a job.  It really is important to know whether you have those qualities before you apply.
  • '17 Tips to Ace Your Next Phone Interview'-Phone interviews can actually be harder than in-person ones.  Without being able to see the interviewers mannerisms and facial expressions, it can be difficult to get a read on how good a chance you have.  These tips from USA News will help you out.  From someone who has been through many phone interviews, I can tell you these are some great tips.

7 Ways NOT to Make a First Impression

In most aspects of life, first impressions are everything.  This is especially true when it comes to finding a nonprofit job.  You will have to make a first impression that will last if you are going to stand out amongst all the other qualified candidates.  So how do you do it?  Well I hate to be negative, but most of what you can do will come from avoiding things you shouldn't.  With that in mind, here are the 7 things you should avoid when trying to make a good first impression:

  1. Shave before interviews.  Even if you are deadset in trying to grow a beard, it's a good idea to look well groomed. 
  2. It seems like a no-brainer, but you have to shower before going on an interview.  Nothing is more certain to make a bad impression than body odor.
  3. You should dress to impress, but don't overdo it.  You don't want to seem like you are trying too hard.  I would suggest doing some research on the dress code of the company, and wear that type of clothing to the interview.
  4. Look over your resume and cover letter multiple times before sending it over.  You should also have someone else look it over as well.  If there is one surefire way to make a bad impression, it's obvious typos or grammatical errors.
  5. Avoid too many "uhs" when you speak.  This is probably the hardest thing to avoid.  Frankly, it's almost impossible not too utter these.  They have become an accepted part of our language.  Just try not to do it too much.
  6. It's better to be early than late, but don't be too early.  This doesn't mean you can't arrive in the town of the interview super early.  You should just not go into the building until there is 5-10 minutes left before the interview.  This again creates the impression that you are overeager.
  7. Be respectful.  Let the interviewer finish whatever they are saying before you say your part. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Career Round-Up: 6/16/2011

Sorry about the lack of the career round ups in the last few days, I've been quite busy.  But I'll make up for it with extra links today!

Setting Realistic Career Goals

career goals

It's common when doing a job search to get ahead of yourself.  We all have visions of how we want our career path to track.  Unfortunately, these career goals aren't always met immediately.  It's important to realize that your first nonprofit job might not be ideal.  This doesn't mean you shouldn't set your aim high.  You should try as hard as you can to get the job you want, but you should make sure to temper your expectations.

There is no doubt that these are tough times for our economy.  The job market is seemingly stagnant and the competition is fierce for the jobs that are available.  You are probably not going to get the best available job unless you have credentials that are off the charts.  So when you begin your job search, here are some realistic job goals you should set:
  • Be prepared to accept a job that might be less than ideal.  It might not be the most enthralling work you will do, but even the most boring non profit work can eventually lead to better opportunities.
  • Make a list of what would be acceptable salaries to you.  You are going to want to be paid appropriately for the work you do.  If it's an entry level job, for instance, you shouldn't really expect more than $30-40,000 a year (and even that might be a bit high).
  • Know your strengths.  Don't apply for jobs that you think might be too much for you.  And remember, there is no such thing as "too easy" of a job.  You have to start somewhere, right?
  • Be proud of who you are.  The worst thing you can do is oversell yourself in a resume or cover letter.  Nonprofit managers value honesty, so you shouldn't say you can do a job you can't handle.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Preparing for a Job Interview

preparing for a job interview

So you've finally gotten yourself a job interview.  If you thought the hard work was over, well, you're going to be a bit disappointed.  The really hard part comes when you are preparing for the big event. 

When I talk about preparing for a job interview, I'm not referring to getting all your paperwork in order.  In this case, I want to talk about overcoming the anxiety that can creep in before you even get to the interview.  We all get nervous about these situations, and the first step to conquering these fears is to acknowledge them.  It's only natural to feel some anxiety when you are about to do something that could decide not only your financial situation, but your career path.  You can begin to start the process to calm yourself down once you can admit to yourself that you are nervous.

You must fight the urge to do more than you are capable of doing.  This not only contributes to anxiety, but it also can severely hinder your performance during the interview.  If you watch any professional sport, you will often hear announcers attributing a players struggles to "trying too hard."  They say that those struggles will end as soon as they just try to enjoy the moment and play within themselves.  The same rules apply during your job interview preparation.  Sit yourself down and just try to enjoy this opportunity.  Remind yourself that you were chosen for this interview because of the traits you exhibited in your resume and cover letter; you don't have to be anyone other than that person.

You can turn to simple breathing exercises if there is still some anxiety left after this.  I'm no psychologist, but this has always helped me when preparing for interviews.  You need to be able to concentrate on your breathing, and get it to a relaxed pace.  Your breathing tends to quicken when you feel anxiety.  Slowing it down to a more relaxed pace can help reduce those feelings. 

One final technique that can also help is role-playing.  Acting out the interview with a friend or family member can help you get out some of that anxiety.  It can feel a little bit uncomfortable at first, but it's a good way to prepare what you will want to say.  One of the causes of anxiety about job interviews is not knowing exactly what to say.  An interview role-play is unlikely to match the real event.  It can give you a pretty good idea of what you will want to say in response to specific questions.

Anxiety is a normal thing.  We wouldn't be human without feeling it.  That doesn't mean we can't do anything to lessen its impacts on important events like job interviews.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Places to Find Nonprofit Jobs

Below are some sites you should visit that list a bunch of nonprofit jobs. Unless otherwise noticed, all of these sites are free to use for job seekers.

-The Nonprofit Job Seeker: The NonProfit Times' Job board. Lists nonprofit jobs from across the United States. Contains jobs of all experience levels. Make sure to sign up for The Nonprofit Jobs e-newsletter.

-Foundation Center: Also focuses on nonprofit jobs in the United States. Pretty good interface, and easy to use.

-Exec Searches: Mainly focused on executive level nonprofit jobs. Good site to use if that's the kind of position you are looking for.

-Idealist: One of the more popular nonprofit job sites out there. Contains jobs of all experience levels.

-Nonprofit Career Network: Allows you to search for nonprofit jobs across the country. Can also sign up for a newsletter that will give you up-to-date info on career fairs in your area.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/13/2011

If you are reading this blog and are working in the nonprofit sector, I would like to direct you to The NonProfit Times' Resource Marketplace.  It contains contact information for a variety of different services that help nonprofits, from account services to grant writers.  Check it out, it's a pretty handy resource. 

  • '20 of the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Funniest Resume Mistakes'-Mistakes on resumes can be serious problems; especially if they are anything like these.  Some of these examples are pretty hilarious (like "Hobbies: enjoy cooking Chinese and Italians."  Ah, the joy of missing punctuation). 
  • 'Finding the Right Fit in an Employer'-It's all about compatibility when it comes to finding a great job.  This article from The Globe and Mail brings that point home.
  • 'Beating Boomer Bias: Learning New Skills'-You can never have enough career skills.  The field is constantly evolving, especially in the nonprofit sector.  So even if you don't think it's necessary, explore some secondary skills through continuing education courses.

How Much Can a Resume Help?

There is no doubt that having a great resume is one of the most important aspects of a job application.  Having a well-written resume that matches what the company is looking for will help your cause.  But exactly how much can it help you?  There probably isn't one right answer to this question, but I can tell you from my experience that having a great resume did worlds for me when it came to getting interviews.  With my original resume I got little to no interview requests.  But once I made some revisions to it, I found that I was getting call backs at a much more acceptable pace.

I've already gone over what should be in the ideal nonprofit resume, but there are some other ways to get the most out of it:

  • A resume should be focused on the employer's needs.  While you need to tell the employer about yourself, you should make sure what you reveal will be helpful for the position they need to fill.
  • Catch their attention immediately.  Employers receive countless resumes everyday, so you have to stand out if you want a chance at an interview. 
  • With this in mind, the opening statement of your resume should be crafted almost like an ad for why you would be the best fit for the job.  The goal here is to make them want to continue reading.
  • Have someone read over your resume who might not know your career history very well.  If they are confused about anything in it, then you should listen to their suggestions.
It's never guaranteed that every well-written resume will lead to an interview, but it does increase your chances.  And in today's job market you need to take all the extra help you can get.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/10/2011

Fundraising Day New York began today.  If anybody reading this blog is attending, The NonProfit Times has a booth there; number 413 to be precise.  Come on over and sign up for a free subscription!  You can also enter for a chance to win an iPod Nano!'

  • Hate to be self-promoting (or do I?), but I wanted to point everybody over to an interesting job opening on our nonprofit job board: Country Director at American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)It's located in DC, but you will have the opportunity to work in Israel!  Check it out.
  • 'How to Network on Twitter'-Twitter is a great tool for networking, as I have explained before.  Here are some more tips on how to get the most out of it.
  • 'Seven Job Search Tips For Employed Executives'-Even if you are already employed, there is no harm in seeing what else is out there.  This article has good advice on the best ways to search for work while still employed.

Positive Thinking and the Job Search

Positive thinking: It's what keeps us going during hard times.  Keeping a positive frame of mind can help get us through the day.  Of course, it can be hard to reach that state when everything seems to be going wrong.  This is especially true when it comes to the job search.  Finding that perfect non profit job is tough work, especially in a job market that seems to take one step forward and two steps backwards everyday.  But just because it is hard doesn't mean you have to be some sort of guru to get yourself to think positive thoughts. 

First off, you need to remember there is only so much you can control.  It's impossible to control what decision an organization will make when it comes to hiring new employees.  All you can do is present yourself in a positive light.  As long as you put the required effort needed into your nonprofit job search, you will know you have done everything in your power to get that job.  We all like to think we are the perfect candidate for any particular job, but it doesn't always work out that way.  Most of the time, there are factors way beyond our control (such as job candidates who might be more qualified).

The most frustrating aspect of the job search stems from the disappointment of being rejected from a job.  And a lot of that disappointment comes from stressing over doing all that work for seemingly nothing.  What you have to realize, however, is that with every job application you fill out, it gives you more experience.  You end up learning from mistakes you might have made.  And in the long run, that makes you a stronger candidate.

Finally, there is no worse way to slow your progress down than to dwell on the job opportunity that slipped away.  If you are truly committed to getting work as quickly as you can, you simply can't afford to be frustrated for too long.  Just take a step back and remember that as long as try your hardest and practice positive thinking, you will get that non profit job before too long.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/9/2011

Job links for the day, as the heatwave continues to hit a good portion of The United States.  Stay cool, folks!

New NonProfit Times Site

Just a quick housekeeping note: We just redesigned The NonProfit Times website.  As such, the address has also changed.  Although going to the old site will redirect you, we recommend that you update your bookmarks.  The new web site address is  Thanks!

What Should Be In a Job Rejection E-Mail?

I wrote yesterday about how to turn the negative of a job rejection e-mail into a positive. One of the things I mentioned was to write a thank-you letter to the company. Although that does sound like an odd thing to do considering the situation, it leaves a good impression. I briefly mentioned what the contents of this letter should be, but I want to elaborate on that a little more:
  • Like any thank-you note, you should express your gratitude towards everyone involved in the process. This includes whoever interviewed you and anybody else you may have met at the organization. You should say how great it was to meet all of them, and how grateful you were that they took the time to consider you for the position.
  • Say that you really enjoyed learning about the organization and the opportunity to meet employees (if applicable).  Showing interest in what the organization does is a great way to show that you are passionate about their mission.
  • You should say that you were disappointed in not being selected for the job. Believe it or not, it is possible to do this without being off-putting. This can be done by bringing it up in the "thank you" portion of the letter. For example: "I was disappointed to learn that I was not selected for the position, but I want to thank you for taking the time to consider me."
  • Reiterate that you are still interested in working for the organization should another opportunity arise. This is a good opportunity to give them your contact information once again.
  • Finally, end the letter by thanking them again and sign off with a statement like "I look forward to hearing from you again in the future."
By including these points in your thank you letter, you will be making a lasting impression with the company.  And who knows?  Maybe that will make all the difference should they be looking to hire again in the future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/8/2011

It looks like Summer arrived about two weeks earlier than expected--at least on the east coast.  For those of you who live there, keep hydrated.  Oh, and check out the latest job links I have collected:

Job Rejection: Turning a Negative Into a Positive

We've all been through this situation before: You open up your inbox one day and you see an e-mail from a nonprofit to which you had recently applied for a job.  The subject line is vague enough that you can't figure out what the content is, so you open it up with some hesitation.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be what you had dreaded: A job rejection e-mail.  Clearly you are going to be frustrated, but there are ways to turn this negative situation into a positive for your job search.

First off, you should send a thank you letter to the organization.  That probably sounds like a somewhat strange thing to do.  After all, why should you be thanking them after they turned you down?  Besides the fact that it is the polite thing to do, you never know when another job opening might open up at that organization.  Showing that you were able to handle a difficult situation with class will make you stick out in their minds when they next decide to hire.  It also gives you a chance to express your continued interest in working for their organization should anything change.  Leaving an employer with a positive impression of you will make it more likely they will consider you if a new position opens up, or if the candidate they hired instead of you doesn't work out.

Next, you should use this frustration to motivate yourself.  Nothing makes a better motivation than adversity, so you should work extra hard to avoid having to go through the situation again.  You can even change up your job search routine.  It can help make the process a little bit fresher and it might lead to better results. 

I can tell you from my own experience that being rejected from a job is extremely difficult on the ego.  After all the work you put into applying for a job, it almost doesn't seem fair to be rejected.  But remember: It doesn't do you any good to dwell on it.  You can't control the decision an organization will make, but you can control how you choose to react to that decision. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/7/2011

Here are the job links I have gathered up for today:

Job Interview Questions Part II: What You Shouldn't Ask

Yesterday I wrote about some great job interview questions you could ask.  We're going to take the opposite approach today, and go over some things that you should make sure to NEVER ask at an interview.  These are the kind of questions that will make you look bad and, in turn, will severely hurt your chances of getting that non profit job.  So without further delay, let's look at some examples:

  • "If I get the job, can I adjust my schedule so I can attend [insert activity here]?"-This is a big no-no.  There's no better way to turn off a potential employer than to ask for time off before you even begin working.  If it's something really important (like a funeral, family gathering, etc), you can figure out those details when you get the position.  It may seem polite to mention this in advance, but the interview is really not the place to bring up this subject.
  • "What does your organization do?"-There are actually reasons you might ask this besides not doing research in advance.  For instance, the company description may not be too clear.  Regardless of your intentions, this question will still make it seem like you didn't do any research into the organization.
  • "When can I take vacation time?"-Similar to the first question I mentioned, this is a subject you should avoid until you actually get a job offer.  It will also make you seem too eager to take time off.
  • "I have another job offer that is willing to pay me more.  Can you match that?"-This is just an inappropriate question to ask, even if it is true.  What is salary negotiation to one person is obnoxious to another.  Besides, salary negotiations should only take place after you have an actual offer.
There are certainly a lot more bad interview questions to ask, so feel free to leave your own.  Just remember: as long as you avoid questions like these, you will be just fine.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/6/2011

Some helpful non profit job links for the day:

  • 'How Your Blog Can Land You a Job'-Never thought blogging could amount to anything?  Think again!  This post shows how blogging can help land you a great job.
  • 'The 10 Ways to Future Proof Your Career'-Here are some great tips on how to make sure your career is set for the future.  And I don't mean the flying cars and aliens kind of future.
  • 'Why You're Not Getting the Job'-This is yet another great post on this subject.  This one focuses a little more on the process, rather than anything that could be wrong with your resume or cover letter.

Asking Job Interview Questions

At the end of most interviews, the hiring manager will ask if you have any questions about the position.  Even if the interviewer was as clear as they could be on the position, it is a good idea to have some interview questions prepared.  It shows initiative and it allows you to gather more information that you otherwise might not have known.  Your questions should be phrased in a way to get the most info out of the interviewer; in other words, you should avoid asking things that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."  Coming up with these great job interview questions can be hard, so here are some examples to help you along:

  • "How do you see this position developing in the future?"-This is a great question to ask because it will allow you to find out whether there could be any opportunity for growth.  Nobody wants to be stuck in a career with no potential for growth, so it's important to get any information you can.
  • "How would you describe your employees and the atmosphere here?"-No hiring manager would ever tell you anything bad about their company, but that is not the goal with this question.  Many companies often talk about finding the "perfect fit" for their organization, so this question can help you find out what unique qualities you could bring to the table.
  • "What would you say are the biggest challenges facing your company today?"-This question gives you the opportunity to present yourself as a solution for whatever needs the organization might have. 
  • "What would you say is a typical week working in this position?"-You should already know what the job entails, but you can get an even better idea of what your work week will be like by asking this question.  It will also allow you be well prepared for your responsibilities should you get the job.
Hopefully these interview questions will help you in your preparation.  If you have any additional ideas for questions, feel free to add them in the comments section.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/3/2011

There wasn't good news for the job market in May: only 38,000 jobs were added, the lowest number since September.  This is obviously a set-back, but here's hoping for better things this month!

Re-Post: Writing the Perfect Job Description

Writing a job description is not as simple as saying what the position entails. While that might be the easy route, the description is going to have to be much more in-depth if your organization wants to attract the top candidates. Along with what the work will entail, the overview of the job should also make clear what qualities the ideal applicant should possess. Writing the perfect nonprofit job description requires a lot of time and effort, but I will help your organization attract candidates who are better suited for the job.
Before writing the job description, you should gather a group of individuals from your organization who are familiar with the job you are posting. These employees should be your model of the type of person you want to hire to this new position, so they are a good place to start when deciding on the characteristics of the ideal job candidate. Remember, these qualities should not just be job skills; they should also be personality traits. For example, if you were hiring a person to work in fundraising, the perfect candidate would be someone who is personable, and is not easily rattled. You should never assume that the person applying for the position knows exactly the kind of personality type needed to do the job.
Finally, there is the issue of length. Your job posting needs to provide the applicant with as much information as possible.  But, there is the possibility they won't read it all if it goes on too long. You might question whether you would even want to hire a candidate who wouldn't read the entire description, but it is human nature to want to skim if a listing gets too long. Besides, a job seeker is going to want to spend more time filling out the application than reading. As such, your job description should be concise and easy to read (that means avoiding big blocks of text). And when it comes to listing the key points of the job, bullet points are a good tool to use to catch the reader's eye.
When it comes down to it, the job description is going to be what makes a job seeker apply to a nonprofit. If it is not well written or explained well, they are simply going to move onto the next listing. And in this crowded market of nonprofit jobs, that is something you can't let happen to your organization.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/2/2011

Here are today's nonprofit job links:

Online Networking on LinkedIn

I've mentioned before how important online networking is when it comes to finding a job.  There are plenty of these sites out there, but the most useful remains LinkedIn.  You can think of it as the Facebook for career professionals; a place where you can make instant connections with people who can help you on your career path.  LinkedIn is fairly straightforward to use, but it does take some practice to make use of its full potential. 

The first step you should take is to completely fill out your profile.  It can be tempting to leave some perceived "minor" details until later, but you will get the best results if you do finish it immediately.  That way, people you connect with will have a better idea about who you are, what you have done so far in your career, and your skills.  Besides, filling out that "Profile Completion" bar feels pretty good.

You should start looking for professionals to connect with once you finish your profile.  Speaking from my own experience, it can be somewhat confusing figuring out where to start.  Luckily, LinkedIn does have a "Suggested Contacts" feature that will recommend people to you based on your interests and career history.  Before you do this, however, you should first search for people you already know.  This can include friends, family, former co-workers, etc.  Once you are connected with these individuals, you will be able to see if any of them are connected with people in the Suggested Contacts list. 

Joining groups is another big part of the LinkedIn experience.  There are groups for just about any topic or organization, and joining them is a great way to make new contacts.  For example, you could join a The NonProfit Times' group and get suggestions from the members.

Finally, a quick tip for connecting with people: When you invite someone to join your network, you are given the option to customize your own message to that person or use a prewritten statement.  I would strongly suggest you write your own message explaining why you want to connect with them, and how you might be able to help them as well.  People generally respond better when they see you have taken the time to write something, rather than using a copy-pasted message. 

So now that you have a general idea of how to begin online networking on LinkedIn, you can get started on your profile.  Happy networking!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nonprofit Career Round-Up: 6/1/2011

Welcome to June!  Yes, it's the first day of June, and boy does it feel like it.  At least it's not raining anymore.  Here are today's links:

  • 'How Do I Turn a Temp Job Into a Full-Time One?'-One of the benefits of temping is that it can often lead to a full-time position: either at that company or another one.  This post from gives some tips on how to make this a reality.
  • 'Mindset Over Skillset'-This is a video from CNN about how some employers are favoring mindset over skills when choosing an employee.  From the video: 96% of employers say they would choose mindset over skill set.
  • 'The Dirty Dozen Online Job Search Mistakes' lists 12 "no-no's' to avoid when searching for jobs online.  I especially think #2 is spot on.

Job Research Strategies

It is important to do ample job research before you apply to a nonprofit. You should always know what you are getting into before you start blindly filling out applications. Given the amount of resources available to job seekers today, there is really no excuse not to do your homework. This doesn't mean that researching a job should be treated like an inquisition. On the contrary, you only need to do a few simple things to get the most out of your research:

  • Don't just rely on the information in the job description or on the organization's website. This is part of the equation, but you should also visit employee or company social media accounts. This can give you a better idea of the kind of atmosphere you can expect if you work there.
  • Thanks to sites like LinkedIn, it is easy to review the background of your potential boss. You should take advantage of these resources to find out more about this individual. What do former employees say about the boss? What is the person's management style? This is a person you will be spending a lot of time with if you get the job, so it is helpful to find out whatever you can.
  • Know how much you are worth. There are salary surveys all over the web and you should use them to get an idea about what the average pay is for the position for which you are applying. This can be a useful tool when you get down to negotiating a salary.
  • Just because you have years of experience doing a particular job does not mean you will be a good fit for the company. Every nonprofit is different, so it is essential to know just what they consider to be an ideal candidate for the position. This is where career networking really comes in handy. By making connections with employees/former employees, you will have a better idea of what will be expected of you.
  • Finally, try and find discussion groups about the nonprofit you want to join. You shouldn't necessarily take these groups as gospel, but they are a decent source to find out information that you might not find on the company website.

Applying to jobs takes a lot of hard work, so it's important that you follow these job research strategies before you invest your time and effort.